Tee It Up for the Troops event recognizes service and sacrifice

Hundreds gather to Never Forget the events of 9/11
Hundreds gather to “Never Forget”

ST. PAUL, Minn. –Men and women from the military community gathered for Tee It Up for the Troops’ 11th Annual National Day of Golf at The Meadows at Mystic Lake, Sept. 11, 2015.

The day of golf included a morning round enjoyed by 100 veterans, free of charge, and a paid-sponsorship tournament in the afternoon. In between the two rounds of golf, hundreds of Service members, veterans, military family members and supporters gathered for an hour-long ceremony to remember 9/11, honor the fallen and recognize service.

“This year’s event was something new for us,” said James Ball, Tee It Up for the Troops founder. “We always try to do an event the Friday before 9/11, but this time with it actually being on September 11 it held extra significance in that we had members of the New York Police Department and Fire Department of New York do a wreath laying ceremony with Minnesota Gold Star Families – they were paying tribute to their fallen just as the families were paying respect to the loved ones they had lost.”

Gold Star family
It was a somber conclusion to an inspirational ceremony that began with the arrival of 150 motorcyclists, representing Tribute to the Troops, and included a performance by local music artist Rockie Lynne, presentation of the colors and a traditional rendition of “Amazing Grace” performed by a fully-kilted bagpiper.

“Where else could you find the iron of a golf club mixed with the iron of a Harley Davidson like at today’s event?” said Brig. Gen. Jon Jensen, the Minnesota National Guard’s director of the joint staff, who spoke during the ceremony. “All organizations involved in this event, big and small, have turned hatred into love, heartlessness into compassion, and uncertainty and weakness into commitment and resiliency.”

Brig. Gen Jon Jensen
The fundraising event at Mystic Lake was just one of hundreds of Tee It Up for the Troops fundraisers held at golf courses throughout the country since Ball founded the non-profit organization in 2005. Tee It Up for the Troops uses the funds raised to support veterans organizations and national charities, and 50 percent of funds raised at each event stay in the community which hosted it.

“We are honored that The Meadows at Mystic Lake opened their arms to us,” said Ball. “It’s all about coming together to say, ‘thank you,’ and having them know we appreciate their service.”

The event at Mystic Lake was also unique in that the first-ever “Foam of the Brave” event was also held on Sept. 11. The event included drinks by local craft breweries, live music and performances of songs written and studio-produced by veterans with the help of Creativets, an organization that uses art to overcome service-related trauma.

“I sincerely appreciate the time the energy and the effort it takes to put on such a great event,” said Jensen. “On behalf of the more than 13,000 members of the Minnesota National Guard, and our Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, I would like to extend my gratitude to everyone associated with Tee It Up for the Troops.

“But most of all everyone that came out today to be a part of today’s great event – thank you for caring, thank you for being here.”

September 15, 2015
by Staff Sgt. Patrick Loch
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs




Ernie Lamson, WWII Veteran and Long Time Friend


Ernie Lamson, a St. Paul native and World War II veteran has been a long-time friend of Tee It Up for The Troops. Ernie plays 18 holes of golf at least twice a week with the “younger fellas,” as Ernie describes them, who are in their 70s and 80s. “I started using a cart for the first time about two years ago after they kept yelling at me to keep up with them,” he says.

Along with golf, Ernie enjoys playing duplicate bridge, doing pushups every morning, and even took part in a tandem skydive jump a few years ago. “I wanted to go solo, but they had rules,” he says of his skydiving adventure. Although Ernie likes to test the limits in the sky, he has taken care of his body claiming he has never smoked a cigarette or drank, quite a feat for a soldier in WWII.

Ernie ReunionUpon high school graduation, Ernie became a member of A Company, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division. He completed jump school in 1943, but badly broke his femur during a jump that August. To add to his injury, a handle of the stretcher he was on broke and punctured one of his lungs, and had to spend seven months in the hospital. Due to his injury he missed D-Day, a fact he has bittersweet thoughts about, “the injury probably saved my life.” He was honored and written up in local French newspapers during the 70th anniversary D-Day celebrations in Normandy last year. As a former regiment president and treasurer, he displays his uniform proudly with his military jacket, belt buckle, and parachute graduate bracelet. His 82d Airborne cap serves as a display for a shiny mosaic of gold, silver, and brass-plated military pins. After the war Ernie became an accountant and worked with Blue Cross/Blue Shield. He credits working there for motiving him to donate blood and platelets, which is often needed by cancer patients.

Ernie has been to many of our events, including our Reunion event in Florida last year. He continues to play golf and live his life to the fullest, a great example of an American veteran. We appreciate his support and service!

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